By Charity Ruzvidzo
SADC heads of state and government have described the late Kofi Annan as an icon of peace and unity who played a critical role in fostering human rights in the region and beyond.
The former United Nations Secretary General and member of the Elders, Annan (80), died last Saturday at a hospital in Switzerland.
Through separate condolence messages to the Annan family, Ghana and the rest of the world, SADC heads of state said Annan was a force to reckon with as he worked towards Africa’s development.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, through his Twitter account, paid tribute to the Annan family, saying the former UN secretary general’s role fostering peace was pivotal.
“(Mr) Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the UN and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was an inspiration. I had the honour to spend time with him in the build up to our recent elections. His message of democracy, peace and harmony must continue to reverberate, both in Africa and around the world,” he said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also paid his respects saying the world has lost a great leader.
“The news of former United Nations Secretary General Mr @KofiAnnan’s death comes as a great shock to us as we were with him only a few weeks ago when he visited South Africa. It is indeed a great loss to us and to the global community,” said Ramaphosa on his Twitter account.
Namibian President Hage Geingob expressed his sorrow over the loss of the global icon.
“The loss of Kofi Annan, an exemplary son of Ghana, leaves a huge void for the African continent, and humanity at large, which he has served as a courageous humanitarian with immeasurable passion and distinction,” said Geingob, in a statement.
Annan, a founding member of The Elders, succeeded Archbishop Desmond Tutu as chair in May 2013. The Elders is an international non-governmental organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates, who were brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007.
Annan spearheaded several initiatives in Africa, including his chairmanship of the Africa Progress Panel and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Annan also pioneered some of the most ground breaking United Nations policies, including one on the Millennium Development Goals and the Responsibility to Protect.
The former UN Secretary General also led the group of Elders to assess the recent harmonised elections in Zimbabwe.
Other world leaders such as former United States President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Theresa May, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez have also sent out their condolence messages to the Annan family.